The recent acquisition of Junior Seau made Rodgers expendable, and the bargain price was a seventh-round pick in 2004.
The Dolphins were willing to settle for anything in return since the 6-1, 230-pounder from Arizona State likely would have been cut in June for salary cap purposes. Miami signed Seau, a perennial Pro Bowl linebacker, earlier this month to a four-year, $14 million contract.
The Green Bay Packers also expressed interest in Rodgers, but held off on a possible trade after selecting Oregon State linebacker Nick Barnett in the first round of the April draft.
Rodgers, 31, started 89 of 93 games at weakside linebacker for the Dolphins since being drafted in the third round in 1997. He has 378 career tackles, nine sacks, four forced fumbles, and three interceptions.
"Rodgers is the kind of player we have targeted for the defense
since last season ended," said New Orleans Coach Jim Haslett. "He can fly to the ball and close gaps. We have gotten deeper, more experienced, and faster with this trade."
The Saints, who ranked 27th in defense last season, were planning on starting James Allen, a third-round pick in 2002, at weakside linebacker before acquiring Rodgers, who attended St. Augustine High School in New Orleans.
Instead of football, he played the trumpet as a member of the school's nationally renowned marching band. He left ASU after his junior season.
Rodgers graduated from high school in 1989, and then served four years as a medical technician in the U.S. Air Force. He was stationed for more than two years in Okinawa, Japan, before enrolling at Riverside (Calif.) Community College in 1994.